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Feature: Adam Williams

Updated: Jun 6, 2019

Adam Williams is one of those people who have been chasing a dream since he was child. Even more fascinating, are the “coincidental” circumstances that continued to come about in Adam’s life that would either foster or facilitate his journey.

Whether it be by design (divine, or otherwise), or by chance, a story that started as a youthful fascination with observing the sky, has curves and dips that include strong family bonds, an enlistment in the Navy, overcoming self-doubt, and finally his current setting; a full-time college student in pursuit of a degree in Meteorology.

As previously mentioned, Adam’s interest in the weather began when he was young, and initially, that interest was not entirely positive. In fact, one of the main reasons he watched the sky so close, was because he knew inclement weather could be dangerous for him and his family who, at the time, lived in a trailer. Adam explains that on stormy nights, he made it a point to sleep in a room near his parents, because he did not want to be separated from them in case there was a need to evacuate their home in a hurry.

Before long, though, Adam became familiar with the various weather services and started the routine of passing along local weather forecasts to his father before he left for work. Between the reports provided by local meteorologist, Jim Gandy, and, of course, The Weather Channel, his interest began to grow. But when his father gifted him a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Radio, Williams was able to add another layer to his knowledge of the weather, and his curiosity for cloud watching would become something more. Something that he became truly passionate about. Interestingly enough, opportunities to explore that passion further came about when he joined the Navy after high school.

In my experience, when people join the armed forces, being able to do exactly the kind of work a person wants, or expects, is very rare. The military does try to offer jobs that closely resemble an enlistee’s interests, however, there are no guarantees and one must typically make the most of the specialty they are assigned. As things would turn out, that would not be the case for Adam.

When it came time to select his job, Adam had three choices, two of which were pretty standard; Service Cook and Information Technology. The third, as luck would have it, was that of Aerographer’s Mate (AG). Which, as you might guess, was a job related to meteorology. Specifically, AG’s observe, collect, record, and analyze meteorological and oceanographic data. What luck!

As an AG, Adam would be assigned to ships and perform a task he was already quite familiar with, observing the skies. He would determine things like cloud elevations and ongoing or potential storm locations. He would collect temperature and moisture data using the instruments of the trade. And, of course, as in all military operations, his data had to be accurate because once processed, it would become a forecast that would be communicated to the greater Department of Defense (DoD) network. The forecast would go on to be shared with Air, Sea, and Ground forces conducting military and humanitarian missions around the world. His time in the Navy would eventually run its course, however, and he would find himself far from home in San Diego, California. Upon his discharge, his journey toward meteorology would take a bit of a detour.

Adam would enroll into San Diego Junior College as a Criminal Justice major. A far cry from the original path of chasing the weather, but one he chose due to his insecurities in dealing with Math courses. His new wife, Mattea, someone who holds not one, but two college degrees, tried to encourage her husband to continue to follow his dream, but her advice would, unfortunately, fall on deaf ears. It would not be until Adam aced a course in Algebra, and was reassured by his Math professor, that Williams would begin to consider his dream again. Not only that, but it would appear, fate would intervene one more time to show Adam, his passion for the weather was more than just a dream.

While attending junior college, Adam found work as a security officer for Northrop Grumman thanks to the DoD clearance he still possessed from the Navy. During one of his routine patrols of the different floors, Williams came across a part of the building with a sign that read, “NASA SPACE LAB – METEOROLOGY,” and his interest was piqued, once again. He began talking with as many people coming and going from the lab to gather information about what it took to be able to be apart of their team. At first, he wasn’t finding much luck, but his persistence would eventually pay off. He managed to have a conversation with one scientist who explained that, at a minimum, a master’s degree in Meteorology would be required to get his foot in the door. That short chat would be all the spark he needed to get back on track and make his dream a reality.

Adam would go on to enroll and be accepted in the College of Charleston (CofC), less than two hours away from his hometown of Manning, South Carolina. As a bonus, Mattea’s mother lives on the east coast as well, in Pennsylvania, making it that much easier for her to visit family, too.

Adam gives his family a lot of the credit for much of the good fortune and success he’s experienced over the years. They are a tight nit group who looks out for each other in every way a family should. He learned what it meant to be responsible, accountable, and respectful. Most of those lessons coming from several of his uncles, who served in the armed forces, themselves. His father has been a salesperson for the same company for over 30 years, and his mother is a counselor for prison inmates, and each of them have demonstrated what it means to be hard working, compassionate, and fair.

There was one lesson, however, that Adam had to learn the hard way, and its one that he feels everyone should be aware of when seeking a college degree. In his first semester of school at the CofC, Williams was not exactly applying himself to his studies. By his own admission, he grossly underestimated the level of difficulty the classes for his degree possessed. Still, he thought that it might be possible to give minimal effort and still pass. He was wrong, and it would land him in academic probation. When that happened, he confessed, his confidence was severely shaken. But thanks to the assistance of the on-campus tutoring workshops, he Student Veterans Organization, and the support of his amazing spouse, Mattea, he’s back on track and vows never to find himself in that predicament again.

In addition to accomplishing his goal of becoming a meteorologist, Adam also wants to be an example for others in the African American community. Adam wants to try and show the varying career options available to the community that go beyond what might be considered typical. In his words, “I want to be an ambassador for programs not normally filled by African Americans.” Williams also had another message for anyone chasing a dream, “Don’t use ‘fear’ as a reason not to succeed.”

Adam Williams grew up studying the clouds because he felt that he needed to know how the weather might behave at any given moment. Little did he know, that what started as a childhood fascination would turn into a journey that would include a military career, rubbing elbows with scientists, overcoming academic insecurities, even academic probation, to land where he his now. A handful of years away from accomplishing his dream of becoming a meteorologist.

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